Jobs of the future will look different than today. AI – or artificial intelligence – is a hyped term that’s been thrown around a lot in the past few years. Many say it will change the jobs of the future radically. The fast progress on algorithms, data capture and processing power has led to a swarm of startups trying to disrupt industries from auditing to shipping and everything in between.
With that, a big fear has emerged that AI, machines and AI-powered robots will replace humans. That’s likely true. To some extent at least. But you can prepare yourself for a job of the future and set yourself up for a successful career by developing a few important skills.
Always remember, jobs won’t just be replaced, it’s also true that new jobs will be created. History serves as a good guide as the same happened in previous disruptions. A good example is what happened when the first ATMs were introduced in the US in the 1960s. Many people were afraid that machines would replace humans.
What happened when the ATM was introduced?
In reality, the number of bank tellers in the years following the introduction up to the 2000s increased as James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute points out in an article from 2016. (The cited research is from a book by James Bessen, if you’re interested you can find it here.)
Career Opportunities Despite AI
It’s crucial for the future workforce – that’s you! – to understand what opportunities will be created during the digital revolution. AI will replace jobs but not all, I hope this post gives you a good idea of what you can do to pursue a great career.
One of the true thought leaders in AI Andrew Ng who teaches at Stanford said to Forbes:
“If a typical person can do a mental task with less than one second of thought, we can probably automate it using AI either now or in the near future”.
That gives us some idea already.
Creativity is often mentioned as a skill that won’t be replaced by AI any time soon. Along with critical thinking, communication skills and imagination these are the things that can set you apart in your career regardless if you’re a recent graduate, a low-skilled worker, somewhere in middle-management or anywhere else.
But how can you develop these skills?
How to Be More Creative in Your Job?
You might wonder how can you be creative in your work and that’s a valid question. Many career brochures in universities are absolutely outdated and the image of a successful graduate is portrayed in a big four account firm, as a financial analyst or something else that is very clearly structured and defined and needs someone with attention to detail, rigour and stamina.
Guess what, a machine can be all of that, 24/7, all year round, for much less money.
The tasks that can be automated by AI are typically mundane, clearly-defined, repetitive, simple tasks. If that sounds like your job, then it might be replaced soon.
So, the big question is, how do you stand out? How do you bring creativity to your job? How do you elevate your position above the mundane, repetitive work and think outside the box?
An Important Skill – Being Entrepreneurial
Being entrepreneurial is one of the most creative traits a person can have and combines all the above skills that I’ve mentioned like critical thinking, communication and imagination. Being entrepreneurial doesn’t require you to be an entrepreneur, you can be an intrapreneur in your company or just someone who takes initiative.
You have to know that “mundane, repetitive, clearly-defined” are very comfortable and if a job is like that and probably pays well then you won’t like change. But it’s the only way to long-term success.
Being entrepreneurial, being a challenger, being someone who is creating something new – creative – requires initiative, courage and optimism. The skills you train are invaluable for a future in which AI will become interweaved with all jobs.
How To Start Being Entrepreneurial?
There’s no set recipe on how to be entrepreneurial but there are great resources, people and opportunities to train your thinking. Today, I want to share to very practical ways of how you can stimulate your creative juices in ways no AI can.
Use Ideation Techniques
There are countless ideation methods. We often revert the same old such as brainstorming but there’s more. I won’t list all of them here as you’re smart enough to use Google. Google for “ideation techniques” or “creativity techniques”.
You’ll be surprised to find things like the Disney method. The story goes that Disney would go through ideas from three perspectives in the order of the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler/critic.
Another one, I personally like to use is to listen to customers or client when they say: we want to improve X by 10%. And I think, wow that’s a lot, that could be millions for some customers. But then I challenge myself on that and ask myself what if my customer just said 10x of what they’ve said. In my example it would mean, how do I improve X by 100% or go even more crazy by a 1000%?
Imagine, if a customer, boss, client, whoever approaches you to improve a process.
Let’s say, improve the speed at which coffee is served for Starbucks baristas. The CEO might ask if we can take away 10 seconds of the preparation process that would save millions. You get right to it but you’re thinking is slightly restricted as it’s a very incremental, traditional, non-creative thinking that you’ll likely fall into.
Now, imagine the Starbucks CEO told you 10x that. What if he said that he wants the coffee preparation time to be improved by 100 seconds.
Sounds impossible, right? Well, the CEO pays you to come up with something and suddenly you’ll notice how creative you’ll get.
Today, I can order my Starbucks coffee on an app and collect it without even waiting a single second. Maybe that came out of a 10x ideation session.
The last one, I often use is the opposite-method, the goal is to brainstorm what your customers, your boss, your clients, whoever would never say about you. For example, if you ask a citizen to renew their passport/driver’s license they would probably never say “wow, you have really great opening times and I don’t even need to take a day off”. That will highlight gaps and opportunities for new ideas.
Develop Mental Models
Mental models help you see the complex world in simplified ways and allow you to make better decisions along the way. I strongly recommend that you check out the #1 resource on this – the Farnam Street blog by Shane Parrish.
So, what’s an example of a mental model and how does it help you to get ready for jobs of the future?
Howard Marks explains in his book “The Most Important Thing” the concept:
“First-level thinking is simplistic and superficial, and just about everyone can do it. Second-level thinking is deep, complex and convoluted.”
It basically means that if A happens then B follows is simple and everyone can see that. But what happens with B and how does it impact C? D? E?
It’s a great way to develop critical thinking skills about actions and unintended consequences. The cobra-effect is a great example. Back in the days of the British empire, the imperial government was concerned about the number of venomous cobra snakes in the capital of Delhi. In the true spirit of first-order thinking, they’ve decided to offer bounties to people for every dead cobra. On the surface, this seems like a fantastic idea. The strategy worked initially and many snakes were killed. The British were happy.
The second-order impact, which they could have thought of had they employed the second-order thinking mental model came to them as a surprise. Entrepreneurial people started to breed cobras. That, of course, is very creative and would supply them with extra income. Unsurprisingly, the new business idea spread and the government got wind of it. The rules scrapped the program and cobras became worthless. The entrepreneurs realised that and set all the snakes free into the wild. This had the very opposite effect of what they initially wanted to achieve. It backfired and made everything worse than it was.
Time To Get Creative for the Jobs of the Future
AI is reshaping the world we live in and the digital revolution is only accelerating. As an innovator, entrepreneur, intrapreneur or anyone else who’s willing to go beyond simple, repetitive, clearly-defined tasks will succeed. You must challenge the status quo and show creativity. It’s not easy, it’s hard. But it’s worth it. It sets you up for a long, successful career that’s safe from automation.
My recommendation if you want to be ready for the jobs of the future is to brace yourself for the digital revolution that’s happening and you need to reinvent yourself to stay ahead of the curve. That will lead to a sustainable successful career that won’t be replaced by an AI. Time to get creative.
Do you agree? Leave a comment below…